MINDFULNESS FOR GRIEF
The loss of a loved one is a life-altering event, and although it’s something we all experience at some point, the grief that follows is real and unique to each person.
Through the grieving process, it’s normal and expected to experience ups and downs. Hence, why it’s often compared to the ocean where grief comes in waves, where you figure out how to ride or surf it, or the waves can tumble upon you. Either way, even though it is usually not enjoyable or come with easy or simple feelings, going through and “forward” in your grief is the best way to let go. By working through the grief process mindfully and compassionately, we can make it more meaningful and less likely to snowball into more painful symptoms.
Here are some thoughts to consider as you mindfully realign within your own unique grieving process.
FOCUS ON YOUR NEEDS
Being able to sit with the grief—and the physical and emotional changes it brings—can be an important part of your healing and recovery. If you aren’t used to feeling these emotions so deeply, it might seem difficult at first. But it’s important to remember that feeling and living with emotions as they come and go is a crucial part of your self-care, which, therefore, needs extra attention during this time. When the difficult emotions stay suppressed, emotional pain can take over and show up as physical symptoms over time.
Through mindfulness and meditation, you can ground yourself through the grief process from a place of kindness and understanding. Even if everything around you seems to be spinning out of control, you can find peace within the storm.
Grief doesn’t have one right or wrong process, and each person’s experience is different. However, what you do during your grieving time can have a big impact on your wellbeing. So even though it may seem impossible to focus on your own needs during this time, it is vital, and beginning simply with mindful meditation is a good start.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Part of mindfulness is being aware of how you feel, and then the practice of “sitting” with those thoughts, even if they are uncomfortable or bring up strong emotions. After all, it can be normal to experience more thoughts and emotions than usual during your grief. Or, sometimes even the opposite happens, where we experience lack of emotion.
But if you are in the emotional wave, you might experience guilt, anger, anxiety, deep sadness, or even envy for those who haven’t experienced or don’t understand what you’re going through. You might even be hard on yourself thinking you shouldn’t be feeling those emotions, but stop here immediately. Allow yourself to be authentic in what your mind and heart are expressing, and feel it fully–there is no one you need to apologize to or live up to.
ALLOW YOURSELF TO CRY
And of course, you are going to cry. Let it out. Never stifle it.
Cry as a release. You need it.
Know that it’s okay to let yourself feel however you’re feeling. It’s okay to identify the emotions and practice sitting with them; in fact, it’s a necessary part of the grieving process.
Notice Your Body
Physical symptoms you might notice are shortness of breath or shallow breathing. This keeps your body in a state of fight or flight mode, causing you to tense up physically and experience fatigue, irritability, or even digestive upset. Instead, allow your body to repair this naturally, often through sighing. This is actually the body’s trigger for more oxygen, as it forces deep intake of breath which usually ends with an audible exhale or sigh. So, sigh as much as needed and take intentional, deep breaths throughout your movements.
Through breathing and a mindful practice, you can help your body relax and act as an antidote to the physical and mental drain of grief. Then, restoration begins slowly, but surely.